China watchers expect the country’s chief delegate to the 2018 World Economic Forum to be anointed as a leading economic policymaker at the upcoming March legislative assemblies.
Liu He, a senior economic adviser to the Chinese government, drew international attention at the World Economic Forum in January, where his spruiking of Beijing’s pro-globalist credentials prompted the New York Times to refer to China as the “star at Davos.”
In a speech delivered at Davos Liu said that China was committed to globalisation and economic opening, and that Beijing’s upcoming reform agenda would “exceed the expectations of the international community.”
The 66-year old Beijing native is a veteran of China’s economic policy circles, as well as an alumnus of Harvard’s Kennedy School and Seton Hall University in New Jersey, giving him outstanding credentials for dealing with the US during any trade or policy stoushes.
China analysts now expect Liu, who is already considered one of the 25 most influential members of the country’s politburo, to be anointed as a top economic decision maker at China’s Two Meetings the first half of March.
Liu is likely to be appointed as one of the four vice-premiers under Premier Li Keqiang, with observers speculating that he will be one of the most powerful holders of the office since the start of the new century.
Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London and author of China in the Xi Jinping Era, said to the South China Morning Post that Liu will be Xi Jinping’s most trusted economic managers, “largely bypassing the premier.”
“Liu is unlikely to put forth any plan which he thinks President Xi Jinping will not approve, or like,” said Tsang.
Another source said that Liu will also head China’s recently formed Financial Stability and Development Commission, which will wield authority over all of China’s other financial agencies as part of efforts to improve coordination.
Other figures expected to join the commission include incumbent head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission Guo Shuqing, head of the securities regulator Liu Shiyu, state planning director He Lifeng and deputy central bank governor Yi Gang.
“The team being put together looks like a strong one” said Tsang to SCMP. “They should be in a position to put in place a reform program that seeks to rebalance the economy and reduced risk at the same time.”